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Sambo: The Effective Martial Art from Russia


Conor McGregor is widely regarded as one of the most popular fighters in the world of mixed martial arts. His personality and explosive fighting style have made him popular outside the world of MMA. So, in 2018, when a fighter by the name of Khabib Nurmagomedov easily beat him, many asked not only who Khabib was, but inquired into his background in combat.


Khabib Nurmagomedov specializes in a Russian martial art known as Sambo. The martial art was created by the Red Army in the 1920s to improve hand to hand fighting. The word Sambo is an abbreviation of the Russian words "samozashchita bez oruzhiya," which means self-defense without weapons. Vasili Oshchepov and Viktor Spiridonov are responsible for putting Sambo together.


Oshchepov studied Judo in Japan, earned a 2nd-degree Black belt and studied under Judo founder Kano Jigoro. Spiridonov had a stronger background in wrestling. The two influential martial artists never met. Their work influenced other fighters, who tested their methods during the 20s and 30s. There are two different versions of Sambo. There is Combat Sambo and Sports Sambo.


Sport Sambo is similar to grappling and wrestling. It does not use chokeholds, but it does use leg locks. Combat Sambo uses various forms of striking, kicking and grappling. Khabib is a two-time Combat Sambo champion. His father introduced the sport to him when he was very young.


Thanks to Khabib, Sambo has increasingly become more popular. More people are interested in the sport and interested in learning it because of its effectiveness in real situations. Sambo uses various throws and grappling techniques to get an opponent to the ground. Due to its proven effectiveness, it is used by law enforcement and military units outside of Russia. Although it has gained attention because of Khabib, Black Belt magazine first reported on Sambo in 1967.

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